Updated: May 7
You may feel that the level of success an employee has in probation will ultimately be down to the employee. But there are a few things you do be doing as the employer to help create success for your newbie...
When I hear the word induction, I think of the first day of work trying not to fall asleep in front of the longest PowerPoint presentation you ever did see. I'm not knocking it, because it can be a great way to give out lots of information to your new starters.
But the induction period should last a bit longer than the first day. Because it's more than just how to book holiday and where the loos are. It's about showing the new employee your ways of working, ways of communicating, learning systems and procedures, integrating with a new group of people.
So my tip here is to plan at least a 2 week period of induction with your new starter. Structure their learning for the first couple of weeks while they find their feet. Book meetings for them with key people in the business to start building relationships and integrating them in how the business works.
I know it sounds like overkill, but trust me, it works.
You should meet up with your newbie more regularly than you meet up with your established staff. Once a week to start with is ideal so that you can answer any questions they might have. Then, once they are settled you can move to bi-weekly or monthly.
You should be meeting with your newbie at least one per month during their probationary period to help identify training needs, support needs and address any concerns you may have in a timely way.
When you meet with the employee, avoid dominating the conversation. Try to ask questions to ascertain how the employee is settling in with the rest of the team, the job and the environment. Always offer support. When you say "what support do you need" they will say "I don't know" because they don't know what they don't know yet! So you will need to offer specific training and support for them to know whether it will be helpful.
If something isn't quite right - deal with it. And by that I mean, if your new starter hasn't quite done something in the way you prefer, if they've made a mistake or if there is something you are concerned about, meet with the employee to talk about it ASAP.
If you don't nip things in the bud early doors, guess what...they get worse over time and then you have a bigger problem that's harder to deal with.
If you are already having regular reviews, this should be quite a straightforward conversation.
Be Prepared for Challenges
When you're dealing with people, you must always remember that not everyone thinks in the same way as you. So therefore people will often do things that baffle you. The important thing is to remember to follow your procedure and focus on the facts!
So when an employee declares a health condition 3 months down the line, don't worry about the fact that they didn't tell you up front, and focus on handling any reasonable adjustments you need to make.
When an employee tells you they don't like your management style, don't get offended. Get curious. Ask them how they like to be managed and see what you can do differently.
When an employee doesn't turn up for work without any notice, review whether the absence reporting procedure is clearly communicated enough in induction.
People will always do weird and wonderful things, it's not necessarily a reflection on you as a manager. But if you can at least prepare for the weird, you can enjoy the wonderful and build a successful team.
Now, I'm not saying this is a bulletproof method to having no failed probationary periods because you can't ever guarantee anything when it comes to people management.
But, if you arm yourself with these steps consistently, you improve your employee's chances of passing probation and becoming an asset to your business.